JJ Cale, Writer of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Eric Clapton Hits, Dies at Age 74

JJ Cale, who wrote Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Call Me the Breeze” and Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight,” died Friday night (July 26) at a hospital in LaJolla, Calif., after suffering a heart attack. The singer, songwriter and musician was 74. Born in Oklahoma City, he was a key figure in the Tulsa, Okla., music scene during the ’70s, and his work as a guitarist influenced numerous musicians, including Neil Young and Mark Knopfler. Early in his career, he served as a musician for the Grand Ole Opry’s touring company. Cale had a significant following among music fans, but his greatest success as a solo artist was in 1971 when his single, “Crazy Mama,” peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Waylon Jennings scored a Top 10 country hit in 1980 with Cale’s song, “Clyde.” His songs were also recorded by Johnny Cash, The Band, Deep Purple and Tom Petty, among others. In addition to “After Midnight,” Clapton had success with Cale’s “Cocaine,” and the two musicians won a Grammy in 2007 in the best contemporary blues category for their album, The Road to Escondido.